ITALY’S GOLFI DI TARANTO

Currently we’re cruising in southern Albania until late next week when we’ll return to Corfu in Greece.
Sorry the Blog has got behind. Have had Envoy’s new owners aboard for last couple of weeks or so and a problem with an accidental EPIRB activation – will catch up now. Adding photos is an issue right now and I hope to add these later.
Golfo di Taranto
So far in our story we’ve been on the Adriatic coast of Italy and Porto Castro is the last reasonable anchorage heading south. So we cruise south and west into the Golfo di Taranto to anchor off the marina Santa Maria di Leuca. It’s pretty good, but like many anchorages here subject to wakes from large motor boats from late morning until late afternoon. We stay here just one day and then cruise north with a southerly wind behind us further into the Golfo di Taranto. In the late afternoon we drop anchor in a very large and calm south-facing bay called Torre del Pizza. We’re staggered to see more than 200 mostly motor boats ranging from 5 to 25 metres long anchored here. In the late afternoon we have drinks on the foredeck and watch as they all leave bar two sailing yachts which like us stay for the night.
In the morning the wind turns north again making this an exposed anchorage so we head further north finding an excellent small harbour called Porto Caesario. Access is via a narrow buoyed passage through a reef and once inside it seems like you’re in a tropical Pacific atoll. The depth is only about 3 metres with lots of shallower water and ashore a beached wrecked yacht is a grim reminder of what can happen if things go wrong and a big westerly swell develops.
It’s very pretty ashore and there’s some interesting shopping (even I buy a few things which is rare indeed!) and good restaurants.
The day we arrive here is Monday and we’re due to go into a marina at Taranto on Thursday. On Tuesday the updated forecast shows a bad situation developing from Wednesday late afternoon – 40 knot southerlies, turning to 40 knot northerlies with a major thunderstorm. Given our unfamiliarity with the local area and the shallow depth of this beautiful anchorage we decide to head off a day early on Wednesday for the safety of the marina.
Strong winds in themselves are not normally a problem and we’ve often been safely anchored in winds of 30-40 knots and occasionally up to 60 knots. In these cases the wind builds gradually and you have the chance to make sure your anchor is well set. The problem with thunderstorms is that they can hit suddenly and viciously, often causing adjacent charter yachts (that may have inadequate ground tackle and inexperienced crews) to drag. The other problem is the wind is not consistently from one direction but always veers as the front moves, so in anchorages chaos often occurs.
Storm in Taranto
On Wednesday we leave at 0650hrs and cruise west then north-west in a rising southerly about 40 miles to Otranto, arriving 1400hrs. The wind has only reached up to 14 knots when we arrive and we have no problem getting into our berth, stern-to as normal, assisted by competent and friendly marinaras Andrea and Luigi (yes Luigi!). Unlike Otranto this is a “proper” marina with toilets, showers, constant AC power and potable water. It’s also much better-priced at 58 Euros per night including power and water.
The greater Taranto harbour is huge and historically one of Italy’s major naval bases.
By about 1800hrs storm clouds start to gather and I deploy some heavy spring lines from amidships back to the pontoon. The storm continues to gather force in the distance and appears to be probably the worst we’ve ever seen. The sky is pitch black over the storm front and it’s moving down on us – fast. We see the front within about half a mile from us with very low black swirling cloud and then see what looks like white smoke. In fact this is spray whipped up off the sea’s surface by the wind. The wind and spray hits us suddenly on our beam with the wind going from less than 15 knots to over 40 in seconds. As we watch the developing scene from our pilothouse we see our newly repaired wind speed indicator hit 52 knots – that’s nearly 100 km/hr. Nearby, lighter boats heel sharply and bang into each other while Envoy heels slightly and strains at her mooring lines. Ahead of us we see a two masted sailing yacht about 60ft long and moored alongside a jetty, heel very sharply as she’s exposed broadside to the wind. She goes over further so that her gunwales go beneath the jetty’s decking and the rising waves push her underneath, so that she’s unable to right herself. There she stays for 15 minutes or so until the wind changes direction, the seas drop and she suddenly frees herself, popping upright again. We take a close look at her later to discover a lot of superficial gelcoat damage.
The wind veers 90 degrees from abeam to astern and I’m pleased I added those extra lines.
After some torrential rain the storm abates, but we sure are glad we came into the marina.
Damage” to Envoy consists of one cockpit cushion blown away (which funnily enough we find in the water a few hundred metres away two days later) and a little rain water in the engine room bilge, which had been driven through the windward air vent. Our windward neighbor on his Feretti 39 motor boat says he’s lost a squab and we find it up on Envoy’s boat deck. Two yachts on the hardstand are blown off their cradles onto the concrete – ironically one of which is owned by the marina manager. The cafeteria is flooded and its plastic tables and chairs wildly scattered. This same storm wreaks havoc down the coast and goes across to the north-west coast of Greece where sadly six tourists are killed. The only good parts about this were that we were safely in the marina and Envoy got a great fresh water wash!
Early on Saturday 13 July we leave Envoy safely in her marina berth to fly to Rome and then on back to Auckland for a short time, returning to Envoy on 28 July for the second phase of our 2019 adventure.

The Bears of Pack Creek: Part One

Leaving Frederick Sound, we enter Seymore Canal with sightings of spouts rising from the ocean surface. Humpback whales are feeding all around. Our destination is Pack Creek Bear Preserve 11 miles up the canal on Admiralty Island. The dolphins soon join us for an escort up the bay. They seem so carefree as they play […]

Gota Canal Day 1

The Gota Canal (pronounced “Yota” to rhyme with “Yoda”) was named the Swedish Construction of the Millennium. Completed in 1832, the 120-mile (190km) long canal took 22 years to build using 58,000 workers, has 58 locks and 48 bridges, and rises 301ft (91.8m) above sea level. It is a sister canal to the Caledonian Canal…

What About Dylan and Dee Dee?

Dylan and Dee Dee may not join Dora on her dog park trip but they are still enjoying visiting DC. So what is their routine?

Mom heads out early before the heat really kicks in. First, she takes Dylan for a walk along the waterfront at The Wharf. There are long piers to visit, side streets to explore, and lots of people saying how cute he is. Note the Washington Monument in the background.

Then it’s Dee Dee’s turn. The kids let Mom know when it’s time to get out of the heat and back to the blessed A/C on the boat. This morning things had cooled after a fierce storm last night so the walk was longer than it has been.

There are plenty of trees and posts and planters so Dylan and Dee Dee can send and receive their pee-mail.

There are even fire hydrants.

Of course, Dora thinks it is all terribly unfair that she is left behind. No worry, her dog park time is coming.

After the Dog Park

The Red Head crew arrived in Washington, DC a few days ago.  The newly rebuilt wharf is wonderful.

The first thing Dora’s dad did was find the nearest dog park. Dora doesn’t mind the walk to and from the park in the sweltering heat. But she is much more subdued afterwards.

Lake Malaren

Lake Malaren is the third largest in Sweden, stretching 64 nm west from Stockholm. The lake is accessible from the Baltic via locks at Sodertalje, where we toured the Scania manufacturing plant, and at Stockholm. The path through Lake Malaren via these two locks provided a scenic and convenient shortcut for our 100-mile trip from…

Aug. 17 – Chimney Bluffs State Park

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” -John Muir 

On Saturday we finally got a nice day to explore and hike at Chimney Bluffs State Park. High water in Lake Ontario this past spring made hiking along the beach impossible, but today we were able to hike the beach and the Bluff Trail. We started with the beach and I was less than impressed…I guess my expectations were set too high. It was nice and I was glad we had come, but it just seemed like a rocky beach with cliffs that that weren’t too impressive…at least from the water. Well, all that changed as soon as we hiked to the top of the cliffs…the cliff definitely seemed higher and VERY impressive from the rim where we could have easily fallen off. The Bluff Trail gave us a wonderful view of the lake and an amazing look at the power of nature. 
CONTINUE READING HERE…»

South to Port McNeill

2019-Cruise-253xThe journey south went smoothly with one pleasant surprise along the way.  We chose the “outside-inside” route from Prince Rupert along Petrel and Principe Channels.  Whale activity in Squally and Whale (I wonder how that name came about) Channels was brisk.  During one early morning start to reach a fishing area for the first bite of the day, three or four whales came vertically out of the water 200-300 yards away in a tight column with mouths open gathering their breakfast of herring and other bait fish.  Of course no photo was taken as it happened and ended so quickly.  Lots of whale tails, however.

While in this area, I received an e-mail from friends Don & Natala saying that they would be flying in their 2019-Cruise-263xfloat plane (see Echo Bay Aerodrome) in the area exploring lakes on the islands and could I suggest a possible rendezvous.  After exchanging several satellite messages and phone calls we managed to work out a time and place.  Amazingly, it all worked perfectly as though we had planned and rehearsed it in advance.  It is a bit odd to look out the rear doors to the salon and see an airplane propeller 6 feet from your stern.  The weather was calm and Don & Natala spent the night flying off the next day while we continued south at a more measured pace.

We fished our usual places along the route and caught six nice silver (aka, coho) salmon for the freezer.  Our stay north of Cape Caution was abbreviated by a long range weather forecast for a period of windier conditions which would keep us from rounding Cape Caution.  While not having a rigid schedule we weren’t willing to risk a prolonged delay to our journey south.  Others had similar concerns as there were more than a dozen pleasure craft transiting Cape Caution along with us.

From here we’ll head into the Broughton’s for a few days before transiting the constrictions south of Johnstone Strait.

Cruising with Family

We are excited to have our niece and nephew, Courtney and Storm, join us in Petersburg for 10 days aboard Idyll Time. As a surprise present, we treated them to a tour and kayak adventure to LeConte Glacier with Scott of Tonga’s Kayak. This was their first visit to a glacier and even with the […]

Time for Maintenance

Several land based projects are standing in the way of any cruising plans this year, but it does look like we’ll be moving aboard soon. We’re renovating our home in Jupiter and having lived amidst that before – we’ll not do it not again. Our new home p…